Newberry Library Acquires Collection of 2.5 Million Postcards

illinois_postcardThrough an agreement with the Lake County Forest Preserves District, the Newberry Library in Chicago will become the new home of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection, widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States.

The postcards, about 2.5 million in number, feature a range of subjects and genres: rural vistas and urban skylines, tourist attractions and emergent industries, domestic scenes and global conflicts. Standing at the intersection of American commerce and visual culture, they demonstrate the country’s evolving conception of itself—and its place in the world—during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Alice Schreyer, the Newberry’s Roger and Julie Baskes Vice President for Collections and Library Services, is leading the Newberry’s effort to integrate the postcard materials into the library’s collection, a process involving both the physical relocation of materials and the digital migration of catalog records and inventories. By April, the Newberry expects to be able to provide reference service to anyone interested in knowing more about the contents of the archives. Access to the materials themselves at first will be by appointment only while the Newberry incorporates the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection into the library’s discovery and access systems. Users will have uninterrupted access to more than 30,000 digitized postcard views available through the Illinois Digital Archives.

You can read more in an article at

My thanks to newsletter reader Joseph Martin for telling me about the transfer of this collection.

One Comment

Just curious: might it be that both sides of the postcards be available to view? I ask this only because a small group of postcards was given to me a few years ago, primarily because the previous possessor thought they were worthless. Turns out that the written messages on the back are the only documentary evidence of movements of some family members in the early 1900s. Without those cards, we would have had no idea about the thought processes as they made decisions about “what to do next.”


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